The True North: Strong, Free…and Nice?

Canadian flagI’ve heard it said many times that Canadians are very nice, and overall we are. To me, though, the word “nice” suggests that Canada is the land of the bland, when nothing could be further from the truth.

Check out Egotists and Autocrats by George Bowering for an eye-opening account of Canada’s prime ministers from Sir John A. Macdonald, a good man to have a drink with, to William Lyon Mackenzie King, who spent his off duty hours at séances.

In her time, Nellie McClung was the furthest thing from a nice woman, but her outspoken determination opened doors for women everywhere.  And Nellie wasn’t the only Canadian woman who changed the world. Take a look at to see the ways Canadian women have changed the course of history, both at home and abroad.

On June 23, 1990, the words of Elijah Harper were heard not only in the Manitoba Legislature, but all across Canada. Elijah by Pauline Comeau takes the reader on Elijah’s journey, beginning on a remote Northern reserve through many hard times, his role in Canadian politics, and beyond.

Scientist David Suzuki has spent most of his life making people sit up and pay attention to his messages about the environment. From the show “Quirks and Quarks” on CBC radio to his book, The Big Picture, Dr. Suzuki has not necessarily been nice, but he has been proven to be right, time and time again.

Cover of the book "Terry" by Douglas CouplandTerry by Douglas Coupland contains many personal photos and mementos from the unforgettable life of Terry Fox. While I’m sure that in private life Terry was indeed a nice guy, his strength of will in the face of staggering odds showed the world the best of what it means to be a Canadian.

So the next time you hear how nice Canadians are, smile sweetly,  say “Thanks, eh!” and take pride in the knowledge that nice isn’t all we are.


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